Arriving at Waschbank River Lodge I was greeted by the warm smiles of Zelmari and her bouncing puppy Nala. Somewhere in the background the cheers and shouts of rugby supporters rang out. As I followed Zelmari to my room, the sun was starting to set over the Orange River, and the bar beckoned. Minutes later, having dropped my bag in my chic, rustic room, I retreated onto that sprawling deck with a cold one and started to relax.
I’d been driving for a solid five hours, at least, along the N1 from Johannesburg to Cape Town. And with trucks a plenty and a few car troubles along the way, I was longing for a place where I could just kick my feet up and chill out. The bustling town of Bloemfontein has passed me by and while a few country cottages looked cute enough, I knew I had to venture further on if I wanted to home stretch to Cape Town to be manageable the next day.
Discovering Waschbank River Lodge
That’s when I discovered Waschbank River Lodge. On her husband’s farm, just off the N1 near Gariep Dam, Zelmari now runs this getaway that could well be described as one of South Africa’s hidden gems. Rustic rooms and a few quaint self-catering cottages overlook the most picturesque of settings. That’s because just in front of the lodge, the Orange River runs serenely by and after just a few minutes here, overlooking that beautiful river, it’s hard to believe that the hustle and bustle of the road is mere minutes away.
The sun glows red over the river as it sets right in front of the lodge which is superbly positioned to take advantage of the views. In fact it’s so beautiful and peaceful that it beckons for a few more nights to be spent enjoying everything the farm has to offer. That’s because this destination is so much more than a one night stop over. You can enjoy canoeing and fishing in the river while Gariep Dam is just a hop, skip and a jump away for a whole host of other activities. The farm itself is home to giraffe, buffalo and a number of buck species and Zelmari and her husband can arrange game drives through the property for their guests.
In fact, it’s the warm hospitality of these two that over and above everything else will have you coming back, time and time again. Their warm nature, lovable dogs and sheer passion for their property is infectious. And Zelmari’s cooking is pretty good too – she has a few secret dessert recipes up her sleeve that are certainly a must try! Condense milk tart anyone?
Janine Avery is the brains behind 5 Star Stories, a digital marketing company offering bespoke content and social media services to the luxury and travel trade. Janine is first to confess that she has been bitten by the travel bug… badly. Raised by a menagerie of Artists, Creatives, Scientists, Researchers, Biologists and Botanists she is a lover of all things travel from basic tenting with creepy crawlies to lazing in luxury lodges. Among her other passions, dabbling in digital marketing, spreading messages on social media, and taking audiences on a journey through her travel stories rank high on her list of priorities.